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American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphones

Postby Beervangelist » Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:27 pm

I wanted to start a thread to collect thoughts on the classic souspahones as a reference point. I'm playing an early fifties stencil, which gets the job done, but I imagine a day where I get hooked up with the sousaphone version of muscle car - American heavy metal with strength, grit, curves and style.

Feel free to suggest makes and models not listed here, and provide as much opinion as possible. If you have links to existing resources that are similar, I'd love to see em. If this sort of post isn't a good idea, please let me know.

Thanks in advance and happy posting!

American Heavy Metal : Sousaphones
Brands to discuss so far:
    Conn
    King
    Martin
    York
    Buescher
    Holton
    E. K. Blessing
    Indiana
    Pan American
    Olds/Reynolds


Conn
Model # Index: https://cderksen.home.xs4all.nl/ConnSousaModels.html
Best Years: Pre-1980 (Brass quality)
#10 Bore = 0.7188" #10 1/2 Bore = 0.7344" #11 3/4 Bore = 0.7734"

14K #10 Bore Director BBb Sousaphone - Discussion: http://forums.chisham.com/search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=king+sousaphone&start=60v
The original Conn 14K (Elkhart era) sousaphones are pretty nice. I like them better than the Conn 20K. I group the 14K along with the Continental Colonial, 36K and Selmer Signet sousas. They are all similar with just slight differences between them.

Sound: Very dark, smooth (probably the darkest-sounding of the "4/4" sousas.) But not as clear or textured as the Kings or Yamahas.

Intonation: Above average/good. Flat 4th partial open Bb and second-space C right above it. Sharp 6th partial open F (like the Kings). Really, not too bad though, and everything else is very close.

Craftsmanship/build: Very good. I Think the Selmer Signet may be even better-made because of the thicker bracing and metal used in the valveset. - posted by toobagrowl


“The Conn 14K is probably nearly the best all-around 4/4++ tuba there is: sound, response, intonation, etc. . . The 14K has guts, focus, and just the perfect amount of WHOOMP. . .” - Bloke



20K - #10½ Bore Artist (three valve short action) BBb Sousaphone
As far as 20K's and 14K's go, those are great horns too. The 20K is a 3 valve, short action valve version of a 38K/40K...which are all 6/4 size sousaphones. The 14K is more of a 4/4 size horn but with the same bore size through the valve section, just narrower branches, smaller bell, etc...by TUbajohn20J

Conn 20k is the best sousaphone i've ever played on. that is the one to get. by koterbski


22K FIberglass BBb Sousaphone
Bloke wrote:Earlier 22K (6/4 body and "short action" .734" bore) sousaphones actually featured FIBERGLASS bell FLARES (not PVC). I believe the sound offered by those bells was superior to that of PVC bell flares, but - well - I still like PVC (on a sousaphone) better than the "after ring" of a brass bell.



32K BBb Lightweight Sousaphone (three valves)
This is a lightened version of a 38K and plays even better !
it was never available with four valves, but that's the only thing
that it could ever lack. I had one for fifteen years and it served me well. by Goodgigs


36K #10 Bore BBb Fiberglass Sousaphone with 24" bell.
pjk wrote:I've owned Conn 20K '60's, 32K '30's, 38K '30's, 40K late 20's, 46K late 20's, Holton 180 -'70's?; And still own; Conn 14K '60's, 36K early '70's ~ Hands down the 36K is the best. Why? Best intonation, Easiest to play=more freely


38K - #10 Bore BBb Sousaphone Grand (three valves regular action) (LP)
The bore is the same as the popular 14K sousas but the large bows are the same size as the 20K sousas
iiipopes wrote:Yes, the @1930 38K I play is an absolute beast, ...Great intonation up the scale

Tubajohn20J wrote:"Both the 38K's and 40K's are BEASTS of a horn and are definitely my top choices in a sousaphone" ...... In my opinion, you should definitely go with that 38K/40K horn you played because those were just EXCELLENT horns, huge sound, great in all registers and volumes. They hold a higher value also.


40K - #10 Bore BBb Sousaphone Grand (four valves) (LP)

Disscussion on 38 & 40K : http://forums.chisham.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=38994

#11¾ Bore BBb Sousaphone Grand Jumbo
46K (3 valves)
48K (4 valves)

***********

King
Models: http://www.hnwhite.com/Low%20Brass.htm#Sousaphones
    #1247 King Cadet Sousaphone: Regular three valve.
    #1248...Same as 1247, but with extra fourth register valve
    Standard/Sympony = 11/16 | .687 bore
    #1250...Symphony BBb Sousaphone, three valves (
    #1251...Symphony BBb Sousaphone, but with extra fourth register valve.
    #1257 King BBb: ...Regular BBb Model, three valves. #1258...Same as #1257, but with extra fourth register valve.
    Jumbo = 13/16 | .813 bore
    #1265 King BBb Jumbo - added in 1928 (* Production since 1925..)
    Giant = 12/16 | .750 bore
    #1270 King Giant Sousaphone BBb:...Regular three valve.
    #1271 Same as 1270, but with extra fourth register valve.

Models: 1250
Jamsav wrote:RE: 1250: I am guessing that thats from the mid /late 70s , and I would expect that to be a really fine playing horn ! The ergonomics are good, it can be played in tune and has strong projection. My King sousy is very responsive and is relatively mouthpiece sensitive. It can sound dark and heavy with a deep funnel mouthpiece or can be brightened up by something shallower


bloke wrote:When I've been in New Orleans, the street musicians down there seem to (just about exclusively) have King sousaphones. The King sousaphones (both bore and body...though the bell does flare out 2" wider at the very end) are definitely smaller than 14K sousaphones and (maybe...??) a bit easier to "fill up" (and get "bright", etc.)


bloke wrote:I'm really starting to believe that the .689" bore King may be the best "all around" sousaphone. The intonation is the best of any, the bore offers a bit more control and more definition to the sound, and yet the 26" bell, insures that it still sounds "sousaphone-like". Perhaps (??) the Olds/Reynolds is even better (slightly larger body), but I haven't spent enough time with them.


toobagrowl wrote: As some now know on here, Kings are my favorite sousaphones. :D I prefer their sound and intonation over the other souzies. They are well made too. Conns are good too, but you already have playing experience on one since you own one. The Kings tend to have a more compact sound than the Conns because of their smaller bore and different wrap. But you can still play loud as heck on one and get a good edge or bite to the sound when you really push it. Can't go wrong with either a King or Conn as they are the best sousaphones made | King BBb sousas have always had a clearer, more textured sound than the Conn BBb sousas, not to mention being better in-tune...




Martin


York
Monster
York monster sousa...very heavy but different tapers than any other sousaphone. Tapers bigger than a conn 20k in bore size but the branches don't become too big too fast like the 20k or martin mammoth so these are really underrated sousas and the sound is big and easy. York's other Bb sousa has a small bore and looks mini by today's standards. Never tried their Eb models. Avoid york sousas after 1940. - posted by Lost


Olds/Reynolds
Bloke wrote:I view the Olds/Reynolds sousaphones (brass or fiberglass) as a cross between...say...a Conn 36K and a King 2380...Conn 36K-size large-4/4 body with 11/16" ("King" size :oops: ) bore. If the delicate brass/fiberglass connections on an Olds/Reynolds aren't torn, broken, or leaky (and the pistons aren't leaky either), you've got something.


WakinAZ wrote:Movable upper first slide, nice. They got that part right.


iiipopes wrote:...[SIC] Reynolds souzy. Great horn. It is fragile, but a great player. ...Yes, the scale is very, very good. 5th partials are great, better than the Conns, and the 6th partials are not sharp, like the Kings. This one is built in the old-fashioned style of the longer 3rd valve circuit so that 2+3 Gb and Db are in tune and 1+3 C and low F need very little, if any, lipping, or you can pull the top bow of the 1st valve circuit to get 1+3 and 1+2+3 in tune. The privilege tones are right on. This is the first souzy that I have been able to lip or slur from a privilege tone to a conventional tone easily. I could not do that on the Conns or Kings I have played over the years. I really like having a 24 inch bell so it is not quite as "top heavy," as on the Conn 14K, 36K and analogs, rather than a 26 inch bell as on just about everything else.


Buescher



Holton


Indiana


E.K. Blessing


Pan American

TubaJohn20J wrote:Pan Americans are great sousaphones. They are Conn 14K and 32K sousaphones with a different name on the bell. Most of them are the smaller bell throat like the Conn 14K but I have seen a large bore one similar to a 38K. All great horns with .734 bore standard stroke valves.
Last edited by Beervangelist on Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:27 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby toobagrowl » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:50 pm

So many classic sousas to choose from. Would love to see the King Giant BBb make a comeback! :tuba: From what I remember, the King Giant was like the 1250, just a full size larger.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby lost » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:11 pm

York monster sousa...very heavy but different tapers than any other sousaphone. Tapers bigger than a conn 20k in bore size but the branches don't become too big too fast like the 20k or martin mammoth so these are really underrated sousas and the sound is big and easy. York's other Bb sousa has a small bore and looks mini by today's standards. Never tried their Eb models. Avoid york sousas after 1940.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby goodgigs » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:24 pm

I don't see the 32K on your list of Conns.
This is a lightened version of a 38K and plays even better !
it was never available with four valves, but that's the only thing
that it could ever lack. I had one for fifteen years and it served me well.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby KiltieTuba » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:25 pm

There may be catalogs from 1928, but the King Jumbo has been in production since 1925 at least.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby pjv » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:56 am

I've owned;
Conn
20K '60's
32K '30's
38K '30's
40K late 20's
46K late 20's

Holton 180
'70's?

And still own;
Conn
14K '60's
36K early '70's

Hands down the 36K is the best.
Why?
Best intonation
Easiest to play=more freely

This all translates to being able to put more energy into my sound and music. In other words my technical prowess increases. I'm quicker, more accurate.

But the 36K is fibreglass you say?

So? I've never ever had anyone say "hey, that recording you made, that didn't sound like a tuba at all. Whats up?"
And I've never ever had a problem with being too soft.

Will the listener hear a difference between fibreglass and brass? Probably.
Will they know it's not brass in a blindfold test. I doubt it.
They WILL know if you are playing more freely, accurately and in tune though.

My 2 cents
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby Donn » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:48 am

pjv wrote:Hands down the 36K is the best.
Why?
Best intonation
Easiest to play=more freely


Do you think that makes sense as a general recommendation - the Conn 36K was exceptional for its playing qualities? or is it more like, the difference between one 50 year old sousaphone and the next has more to do with other things, than the make and model?

(Note "was" - the Conn 36K now sold by the conglomerate is not the same instrument, as the text mentions it's more of a KIng.)
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby bloke » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:23 pm

I own a fiberglass (probably, 1970's) 36K with a (probably, 1920's) 40K (4-valves) valveset, and added-feature #1 upper slide.

Sometime, I'm going to shorten the #1 loop - because the 1st-valve C is flat...but it's a compromise (on this particular instrument) between that and having ~just~ enough slide tubing to pull out for a good 1-4 low Eb. Yes, the #1 loop could be reconfigured to eliminate the lower slide and send more pull-range to the upper loop, but - well - that's more work, and I have plenty of work to do.

I'm really starting to believe that the .689" bore King may be the best "all around" sousaphone. The intonation is the best of any, the bore offers a bit more control and more definition to the sound, and yet the 26" bell, insures that it still sounds "sousaphone-like". Perhaps (??) the Olds/Reynolds is even better (slightly larger body), but I haven't spent enough time with them.

The NOLA players (though yes, many are not wealthy, and probably play what they can manage to obtain) mostly seem to play King sousaphones. Taped-up necks, lack of tuning bits, and (sometimes) quite sharp pitch aside, I suspect that they are attracted to the same "punchiness" to which I referred in the previous paragraph.

note of interest:
Earlier 22K (6/4 body and "short action" .734" bore) sousaphones actually featured FIBERGLASS bell FLARES (not PVC). I believe the sound offered by those bells was superior to that of PVC bell flares, but - well - I still like PVC (on a sousaphone) better than the "after ring" of a brass bell.

bloke "White, arguably, is the worst possible color to offer as a default color for sousaphone bodies. Satin black would look so much better, and not show dirt as badly."
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby pjv » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:26 pm

Hands down the best of MY sousaphones is what I meant.

Having said that, both my 36 & my 14 have the 1st reconfigured to pull.

I like the King intonation but never have tried a fibreglass King.
I have tried a Reynolds fiber & that played amazing, had great intonation but was wat too expensive for it's overall condition. After trying this sous I noticed how much more easy and graceful it played compared to my 14K and started looking for fibreglass souse. I wanted an Reyn-Olds but my present 36K was the better horn out on the market at that time.
And as it turns out, yeah it's black (which works out perfect for the show I'm playing but thats beside the point)
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby Donn » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:14 pm

Wood-grain would be nice.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby bloke » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:25 pm

Why this look (a " brougham" edition...??) was never incorporated into sousaphones, I'll never understand...

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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby Beervangelist » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:12 pm

bloke wrote:I'm really starting to believe that the .689" bore King may be the best "all around" sousaphone. The intonation is the best of any, the bore offers a bit more control and more definition to the sound, and yet the 26" bell, insures that it still sounds "sousaphone-like".


Thanks Bloke - From what I gather the .687 bore is primarily the 1250/1260 Models and the Giant/Jumbos go to .750. Do I have that right?
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby KiltieTuba » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:01 pm

Beervangelist wrote:
bloke wrote:I'm really starting to believe that the .689" bore King may be the best "all around" sousaphone. The intonation is the best of any, the bore offers a bit more control and more definition to the sound, and yet the 26" bell, insures that it still sounds "sousaphone-like".


Thanks Bloke - From what I gather the .687 bore is primarily the 1250/1260 Models and the Giant/Jumbos go to .750. Do I have that right?


11/16th for the 1250 (standard/Symphony)
12/16th for the 1270 (Giant)
13/16th for the 1265 (Jumbo)
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby hrender » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:04 pm

KiltieTuba wrote:
Beervangelist wrote:
bloke wrote:I'm really starting to believe that the .689" bore King may be the best "all around" sousaphone. The intonation is the best of any, the bore offers a bit more control and more definition to the sound, and yet the 26" bell, insures that it still sounds "sousaphone-like".


Thanks Bloke - From what I gather the .687 bore is primarily the 1250/1260 Models and the Giant/Jumbos go to .750. Do I have that right?


11/16th for the 1250 (standard/Symphony)
12/16th for the 1270 (Giant)
13/16th for the 1265 (Jumbo)


Kiltie -- have you played a Symphony? Are they just a standard with a smaller bell? I've been curious about them since I saw the catalog listing on the HN White site.

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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby toobagrowl » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:09 am

bloke wrote:
bloke "White, arguably, is the worst possible color to offer as a default color for sousaphone bodies. Satin black would look so much better, and not show dirt as badly."


I have long thought about that. Why can't the instrument makers offer fiberglass sousas in metallic gold or silver or satin black istead of "commode-white". They would look much better.
Also, wouldn't it be grand if there was a large-size sousa made today in fiberglass? Like Yamaha 411/Conn 20k-sized, but fiberglass. Ultimate (for me) would be a King Giant in fiberglass :!:
I'm dreaming at this point. There are but a small fraction of sousaphone choices today compared to what WAS available decades ago.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby iiipopes » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:24 pm

The analog to the Conn pre-14 Pan-Am is the Cavalier, made for only a couple of years @ 1936. Same characteristics and comments as the Pan-Am and the later 14K. I have access to one that (with permission) I have also had the top of the 1st valve loop converted to a movable slide so the third valve slide can be set so 2+3 are in tune, and pull at will for 1st valve combinations. Yes - imagine a low F 1+3 actually in tune and not sharp!
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby miz-zoutuba » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:54 pm

I have a Buescher copy of the Conn 14K. It has the 24 inch bell. Same Conn neck and bits. I believe it is a late 1950's model once owned by a school district.
It plays very well. Great tone throughout the range and in tune. Quick and nimble for a Bb sousaphone. It has strong false tones also.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby TUbajohn20J » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:36 pm

Great post. I own an old Conn 40K and it's one of my favorite tubas all around. I really love the 14K and 32K as well. They are the same horn but slightly different braces and made during different years. Played a 32K all through high school and college and man do I miss that horn! Lightweight, small bell throat, easy to get loud on but still had a great sound. I've played kings and a few others but CONN Sousa's will always be my favorite.

Side note: the Conn 22K large bore short action fiberglass sounds almost IDENTICAL to the all brass version, doesn't have that toilet bowl sound to it and doesn't have the annoying ring from the bell after you play. That's another one of my favorites!
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby KiltieTuba » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:14 am

TUbajohn20J wrote:Great post. I own an old Conn 40K and it's one of my favorite tubas all around. I really love the 14K and 32K as well. They are the same horn but slightly different braces and made during different years. Played a 32K all through high school and college and man do I miss that horn! Lightweight, small bell throat, easy to get loud on but still had a great sound. I've played kings and a few others but CONN Sousa's will always be my favorite.

Side note: the Conn 22K large bore short action fiberglass sounds almost IDENTICAL to the all brass version, doesn't have that toilet bowl sound to it and doesn't have the annoying ring from the bell after you play. That's another one of my favorites!


The junior high I went to had a bunch of the 22Ks that they never used- I think I used one once for a rainy football game.

Also, Conn made, for a brief stint, a 24K... which is the four valve version of the 22K - I've only ever seen pictures, but the fourth valve wrap was better set up than the 40K and it's equivalents.
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Re: American Heavy Metal : Thoughts on classic BBb sousaphon

Postby TUbajohn20J » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:16 am

KiltieTuba wrote:
The junior high I went to had a bunch of the 22Ks that they never used- I think I used one once for a rainy football game.

Also, Conn made, for a brief stint, a 24K... which is the four valve version of the 22K - I've only ever seen pictures, but the fourth valve wrap was better set up than the 40K and it's equivalents.


Yep. I recall seeing pictures of them too. There was one on here a few years back that had been refurbished. I'd love to own one of those and I always thought it was weird how Conn made the 4th valve wrap differently on that horn than say on a 40K. It didn't have the double shepherds crook type thing in the back like the 40K but instead had some sort of extra slide in front of the valve wrap. I have not seen one since
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